Fight Fear with Facts in 2010 Elections: Retired Military Leaders Educate Candidates in Philadelphia

On June 2-4, 2010, Human Rights First gathered thirteen retired generals and admirals in Philadelphia to speak with congressional candidates from both parties about the importance to our nation’s security of closing Guantanamo, trying terrorism suspects in federal court, and treating enemy prisoners humanely. These meetings followed the model HRF established in 2008, when we organized meetings between the retired military leaders and Presidential candidates on the campaign trail in Iowa and New Hampshire. The Iowa meetings were highlighted by President Obama as his signed executive orders in January 2009, ending torture, and promising to close Guantanamo.


The retired generals and admirals made the case to eleven Republican, Democratic and Independent candidates from Pennsylvania and Delaware that terrorists should be treated like thugs instead of being granted the warrior status they desire by trying them in military commissions or concocting other special, extra-legal ways to treat them. The group’s co-chairs, General Joseph Hoar and General Charles Krulak, also took this message to the public with an opinion piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a radio spot that reached more than 800,000 listeners in Pennsylvania.


National political commentators have looked to Pennsylvania in the days surrounding its primary election as a bellwether for November, and the group’s meetings generated interest among those monitoring how national security issues will play out in the coming months. While in Philadelphia, the group acted quickly to condemn former President Bush’s flippant remarks that he would waterboard again. Dan Froomkin covered the story with a piece at the Huffington Post.


Coming out of the meetings, the retired generals and admirals are energized and committed to continue educating those who will set policy in Congress and informing the public about the importance of enlisting our laws, values and institutions in the fight against terrorism. As a staff member at HRF who works with the retired military leaders, and helps organize these meetings, I never cease to be impressed by their continued efforts to serve this country by preserving its values.


Published on June 9, 2010


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